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Cablegate: Ambassador's Empowerment Fund

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRB #0743/01 2241446
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111446Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8971
INFO RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 4256

UNCLAS RABAT 000743

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG, NEA/PI
DEPT PASS TO USAID

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON SOCI MO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S EMPOWERMENT FUND

1. Mission Morocco's initial USD 100,000 funding allotment for the
Ambassador's Empowerment Fund (AEF) was disbursed in early FY-07 and
has achieved great benefits for the communities that received
grants. The program allows the Ambassador to identify deserving
organizations and provide them with rapid response funding for small
projects to improve the lives of the members of their communities.
There were seven recipients in the first year of the AEF and
projects assisted people in the fields of education, healthcare,
economic empowerment, environmental protection and social services.

2. The AEF contributed USD 29,133 to pay for living expenses at a
dormitory for 20 rural high school-age female students over a
three-year period (September 2006-June 2009) run by the Azilal
Association for Development, Environment and Communication in
Azilal. The dormitory provides a safe and respectable place to
live, so the girls can leave their remote and socially conservative
villages and continue their education in a larger town where a
secondary education is available. For the cost of approximately USD
1.50 per day per student, these girls will have the chance to become
educated and worldly leaders in their communities, which often
suffer a female illiteracy rate of 80 percent. These girls will act
as role models for other children to stay in school, learn new
skills and gain the necessary tools to compete in a globalized
economy.

3. Fatna Melida, a young Moroccan woman with an uncertain future,
received a grant of USD 1,826 to pay for tuition at a computer
training school, English lessons and living expenses at an orphanage
in Rabat where she was raised. Without this grant, Fatna probably
would have had to leave the orphanage because she had reached the
age (17) when children are normally expected to become self
sufficient. The AEF offered to pay for the second and final year of
expenses for these training programs if Fatna applied herself and
showed that she was doing well. This incentive helped and she
successfully received this follow on funding. Fatna should complete
her studies in July 2008. The AEF has helped Fatna gain marketable
skills, foreign language ability and discipline. More importantly,
she has also become a role model for other children at the orphanage
to apply themselves, get an education and become economically
independent.

4. The Moroccan Association for the Support of Development
Initiatives (AMAID) used USD 12,500 of AEF funding to provide
glasses for over 400 underprivileged children (ages 6-15) who
otherwise would have likely eventually dropped out of school because
their families could not afford to buy them glasses. Without
glasses, the children could not adequately participate in school and
pass their examinations. AMAID partnered with the Ministries of
Education and Health to cover the costs of eye examinations and
allow more of the AEF funding to be used for glasses, and therefore
help a greater number of children. As a result, the children of an
impoverished rural area can continue their educations and become
economically viable members of society.

5. Working with the American International Women's Association, the
AEF contributed USD 12,255 to complete the interior of a
workshop/literacy center, buy furnishings and pay the initial salary
of a literacy instructor for a project in an impoverished
neighborhood of Sale. This project has helped urban, poor and
largely illiterate women and girls earn an income by teaching them
to weave rugs and give them the equipment and facility in which to
work. They also learn to read and write - skills they bring back to
their homes and teach to their own family members and friends. The
ability to earn a living and gain an education helps to improve the
lives of these women and their families in a multitude of ways. It
also gives them hope for a brighter future and helps prevent their
family members from falling victim to the call of radicalization,
which often preys on those who feel themselves excluded from society
and do not have the means to improve their lives.
6. The AEF contributed USD 13,000 to a USD 25,000 project by the
High Atlas Foundation (HAF) for the purchase 100,000 sapling fruit
trees that it will distribute to numerous communities in the region
of the High Atlas Mountains. Saplings cost only about 20 cents each
compared to USD 1 for orchard-ready trees, therefore this allows for
a much larger economic impact for the local communities. Initially,
the saplings will be grown in a nursery for two years, and land and
water for this part of the project will be supplied by a private
landowner who will take 10 percent of the trees as reimbursement.
Then, the trees will be distributed to the people of 60 remote
villages where they will benefit 10,000 local inhabitants. The
saplings consist of walnut, pear, apple, plum and cherry trees and
they will help offer sustainable economic opportunities to local
people in this economically depressed region. In addition, the
trees will help protect the environment (reverse deforestation and
combat soil erosion), diversify the diet of the members of the local
communities, and help mitigate (employment driven) urban migration.
HAF estimates that within 4-6 years the trees should help recipient
communities to increase their incomes by as much as 150 percent.
HAF has already successfully planted 25,000 trees in 25 rural
villages.
7. The Association Oujda Ain Ghazal 2000 received USD 13,310 from
the AEF to supply furnishings and equipment for the Oujda Emergency
Shelter and Legal Advocacy Center (battered women's shelter). This
region suffered from a severe lack of government-supported civil
services and public awareness of spousal abuse. This project helped
offer protection to some of the most vulnerable members of society
and upon its opening it was sheltering 27 women and 12 children.
The center had to hire additional staff members shortly after
opening. The Emergency Shelter and Legal Advocacy Center provides
emergency care for battered women in the city of Oujda and provides
legal counseling and advocacy to women about their rights under the
reformed Family Law. At the center, abused women and their children
are offered accommodation affording them immediate relief from their
threatening environments. It also provides treatment for emergency
medical problems, psychological support, and employment training.

8. In a similar project in the region of Ouarzazate, the NOUR
Association for the Solidarity with Rural Women used USD 17,375 to
purchase equipment and furnishings for a center for disadvantaged
women and children. The Government of Morocco's National Initiative
for Human Development agreed to construct a building for the center,
but unfortunately this has been delayed by more than one year.
Completion of the building is expected in June 2008. Initially, the
program plans to offer counseling and job training to 100
disadvantaged women per day. Job training will include classes in
literacy, computer use, cooking, hairdressing, and handicraft
training. Later, a second phase of the program will offer
assistance to street children and unqualified teenagers (school
dropouts) and offer them shelter. The region is among the poorest
in the country and suffers from high levels of poverty, unemployment
and illiteracy. Women are especially adversely affected. The
center should improve living conditions for women and children by
providing a basic education, job training, counseling and shelter.

9. Mission Morocco's initial phase of the AEF successfully made
rapid and significant improvements in the lives of hundreds of
Moroccans and brought the USG much good will and public relations.
These projects will continue to provide sustainable improvements in
the lives of the recipients and bring positive influences to those
around them. With the maturation of the trees of the HAF project,
the numbers of beneficiaries will grow into the thousands. Post
will continue to work with our partner organizations in these
projects to ensure that with the passing of time the benefits of
these programs continue to grow.

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